Being a sophisticated New Yorker may sound glamorous. That’s because it is! (Just look at Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner in the much-anticipated Hulu Original Difficult People.) But the fancy urban lifestyle that inspires jealousy in all your dumpy childhood friends does have its drawbacks: The apartments are tiny and expensive, the subway smells funny and is full of buskers playing obnoxious music, and you’re always being dragged to parties you don’t want to attend by people you don’t really like. While there’s little to be done about the rent or the guy playing the steel drum at 7 a.m. on the 6 platform, at least those tiresome parties can be made more bearable with a few important tips.
THE FASHION WEEK FETE
Fashion Week is a nightmare. As soon as the fashionistas descend, it becomes impossible to catch a cab, the streets clog with models, and everyone starts speaking French. That’s why all true New Yorkers bar the door, draw the blinds, and stay inside until everyone has packed up their tulle and gone back to exotic, faraway Fashionland.
But what happens if you run out of toilet paper and have to take a trip to the deli while couture is breaking out in the streets? Or if you make a wrong turn coming home from work? It’s happened to everyone: You’re minding your own business when you accidentally open the wrong door or slip onto the wrong guest list and suddenly find yourself at the dreaded Fashion Party.
Survival Tip: Dress like a total scrub. In the fashion world, people will assume you’re important if it’s clear you’re not trying to impress. If you show up at a fancy, model-packed fashion party wearing a pizza-stained bathrobe and a pair of ratty, oversized boxer shorts, you’re silently conveying that you’re a person with juice. (Bonus points for smelling like your last attempt at bathing was last week, when you slapped some pink hand soap in your pits in the bathroom at the Port Authority.) New York Insider Factoid: Several icons of the fashion world — naming no names — have used this technique to sneak their way into serious power positions, and stay there.
THE HORRIBLE BOOK PARTY
The reason people have book parties is because writing a book is so depressing that when you publish it you have to get very drunk and let all your feelings out. The resulting soirees bring together a bunch of wined-up, washed-up writers (i.e., unattractive losers, often elderly) to mill around a more successful friend’s Upper West Side apartment while crying about their failed careers and stuffing their mouths with as many little cubes of supermarket cheese as will fit. At the more desperate book parties, there also usually is a person sitting at a folding table in the corner trying to force people to buy the book that’s being “celebrated.” (No one’s buying anything, BTW; everyone at this party already got the book for free.)
Survival Tip: Talk about how rich you are. Most people at book parties are poor and trying to find spouses who can support their pathetic hobby (writing/publishing), or at least people who have apartments in which they can live rent-free. If any of the other attendees smell money on you, it will likely lead to a night of wild romance. Don’t worry if you aren’t actually rich. All you need to do is give the illusion of wealth by waving some cash around. That’s right, just wave it in the air — a single $20 will do. Not looking for love tonight? Don’t worry: If you come prepared with a plastic baggie, you can smuggle a week’s worth of cheese cubes home with you.
THE PARTY IN BUSHWICK
Bushwick is a place in faraway Brooklyn where young people gather in dirty warehouses to take drugs, drink alcohol from thimble-sized plastic cups, and bob their heads up and down in an approximation of dancing. Sometimes there are also activities like nude hula-hooping and other exotic performance art. It’s always very loud and crowded, and no one has much fun, but you have to stay until six in the morning because that’s just how it works.
Survival Tip: Bring your own booze. These parties are always overcrowded, staffed by amateurs, and a total wreck in terms of planning and logistics. Even if you manage to shove your way to the makeshift bar (good luck), you can be sure that they’ll have just run out of everything except pineapple juice. So be prepared: Don’t let yourself get dragged along to a party in Bushwick without a flask or — better yet — a $10 handle of vodka shoved down the front of your pants where no one will think to look. And remember: There’s no shame in being a nasty, secretive booze-pig. As soon as you start sharing with your friends it will be gone in two seconds, so keep your stash to yourself.
THE NETWORKING EVENT
What is networking, anyway? This is an existential question that plagues everyone — even people in the suburbs who do most of their so-called “networking” at rundown shopping malls and in convenience-store parking lots. For you, though — the sophisticated urbanite — networking means being forced to attend a neverending stream of happy-hour cocktail parties in dim, cavernous bars, during which you’re expected to make idle conversation with people you don’t know and don’t care to know, all in the vain hope that they might be able to do you a professional favor someday. (For instance, hire you for a job.) Ugh! Who can be bothered!?
Survival Tip: Steal things. Networking is a complete waste of everyone’s time — so don’t bother with it! Anyway, do you really want a job? It’s just going to make you miserable and keep you from more important tasks. Instead of engaging in networking small-talk, take a good look at all those bags and purses lying on the banquette, mostly unattended! If you pretend like you’re looking for a pack of gum, chances are no one will notice as you start rooting around in other people’s possessions, grabbing anything and everything of value. Get good enough at it, and you won’t need to network anyway, because you’ll already have a lucrative career as a thief!
THE COLLEGE FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY
Lavish birthday parties are for small children, not grown-ups. And yet, everyone has those longtime acquaintances who — far into their 20s and beyond! — persist with the elaborate group dinners, the headache-inducing nightclub excursions, and other selfishly extravagant celebrations honoring a supposedly special day that no one actually cares about. As the loyal friend, you’re expected to get yourself all gussied up in your sparkliest party-pants, buy a gift, show up for the excruciating affair, and then help foot the bill when it comes. (Didn’t you know? Birthday girls and boys are expected to spare no expense yet pay for nothing.) As you stand there sipping a $20 vodka soda, you’ll inevitably find yourself asking, “Who is this person again? Were we really friends once?”
Survival Tip: Demand a moon bounce. If you’re going to take time out of your busy schedule to attend an event as trivial as an adult’s birthday party, there had better be a damn moon bounce. Seriously. So make it a policy: If there’s not a moon bounce, you won’t be showing up. Odds are, you’ll suddenly find yourself with a lot more free time than before! Thank god! You’ll be able to order as much delivery as you’d like, then spend the entire night in blissful solitude, eating onion rings and watching television to your heart’s content.
The best news? You don’t even need friends anymore, because Difficult People has finally arrived on Hulu. The new comedy series, starring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner — and produced by Amy Poehler — is surely all the human companionship you need for now. Doesn’t that sound better than some dumb party anyway?
Bennett Madison is the author of several books for young people, including September Girls (HarperCollins, 2013) and The Blonde of the Joke.
Illustrations by Alex Cannon.